Kenya’s iNuka Pap simplifies access to loans

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On a continent still lacking easy access to financial services, Kenyan startup iNuka Pap is seeing strong traction from its mobile platform that eases the process for credit co-operatives providing their members with loans.

A graduate from the recent Barclays Accelerator programme in Cape Town, iNuka Pap works with credit co-operatives to provide their members with access to instant loans.

Its proprietary platform provides instant emergency financial services to co-operative members. Once a co-operative signs up, its members are onboarded onto the platform with pre-qualified loan amounts. The system sends an SMS to members informing them of the loan, which can be accessed via USSD, making it friendly even for people using feature phones.

It has seen solid traction. Chief executive officer (CEO) Waweru Kuria told Disrupt Africa iNuka Pap currently has just under 50,000 subscribers on the platform, with about five active co-operatives.

“We are still signing contracts and once all fully onboarded we are looking at over 200,000 subscribers,” he said.

iNuka Pap was a long time in the planning. Development started in May of last year, and went on for seven months. It was tested in January of this year with 200 users, and began its prototype in February.

Kuria said there was a gaping gap the startup is trying to fill.

“Banks still have a low penetration in rural Africa, which has left people living here to rely on local credit co-operatives, like SACCOs in East Africa, Esusu in West Africa, and Stokvels in South Africa,” he said.

“These co-operatives take between two days to two weeks to access credit. What this means is that in case of emergencies it is almost impossible for their members to access a loan on time. So these members turn to payday lenders and loan sharks, which most times worsens their conditions.”

iNuka Pap solves these problems, using its proprietary platform to allow co-operative members to access loans on their mobile phones when they need them most.

It has proven popular with investors and partners as well as users. iNuka Pap has received support from a number of institutions, and recently raised a US$250,000 angel round from the Unreasonable Institute and angel investors in Silicon Valley, Uganda and Kenya. It is now in the process of closing a US$500,000 seed round.

Expansion is on the agenda, too.

“We are currently operating in Kenya, and have just set up in South Africa, where we are signing a proof of concept with Barclays to test our product with Stokvels,” Kuria said.

“Within the end of the next two years, we would like to grow our business in Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana and Zimbabwe.”

iNuka Pap, which charges a transaction fee to subscribers and has a revenue share with co-operatives, is still under US$50,000 in revenue.

“So we have a long way to go, but for a startup less than six months old, the sky for us is just the beginning,” Kuria said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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